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HomeColumnsAccidental TuritzThe Accidental Turitz: A Studio in Space? No, This Isn't a Mel...

The Accidental Turitz: A Studio in Space? No, This Isn’t a Mel Brooks Movie


A Beautiful Planet
Image via IMAX Entertainment

A studio in space! Yes, you read that right. Or maybe you read it last week, and this is just a reminder that the idea has been proffered that, within the next couple of years, there will be a film studio in space. Literally, a micro-gravity facility to shoot movies and TV shows.

It sounds ridiculous, right? Like an absurd joke that falls into the whole Rich People Going to Space to Fulfill Some Kind of Weird Fantasy syndrome, even if it makes them look like posers who can’t seem to find better ways to spend the untold billions at their disposal.

When I first read about this idea myself, I thought it was pretty silly, too. I mean, come on. I know Tom Cruise is planning to shoot a movie in space next year, but a whole studio up there? Sure, the company working with Cruise and his trusted collaborators, director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) and writer Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible 5-8), is the one behind the studio, but still…

A studio in space? Is this a Mel Brooks movie or something? I mean, who are we kidding, here?

But then I thought about it, read a bit more, and tried to think outside the box a little, and I came to something of a different conclusion.

It’s possible, and I’m not saying it’s likely, but I think it is entirely possible that something like this could end up being a boon to everyone on the planet, and actually provide a viable future to humanity.

Allow me to explain…

There’s a lot of bad stuff in the world right now. A planet that seems to be in revolt against us after we’ve mistreated it for so long, a country that hasn’t been so divided since it was literally at war with itself a century and a half ago, inflation, increases in gun violence and hate crimes, I could go on. It’s not like we’re lacking issues to discuss.

Matthew McConaughey Interstellar
Image via Warner Bros.

But if we’ve learned anything from over a century of film, and almost a century of television, it’s that we strive for more. The stories that we watch, read, and listen to transport us from wherever we are in the world into the far reaches of outer space. These stories give us hope about our future, and, whether we consciously credit them or not, they make us think about our potential — not just collectively, as a species, but as individuals.

This might seem off-topic but just go with me for a second. I have heard people in political conversations wonder aloud why the poorest people are so opposed to tax cuts for the rich. My response is that, this being America, everyone thinks they can get to the top and someday achieve something, even if it’s as prosaic as winning the lottery. In their minds, if that day ever comes, they don’t want to have to pay higher taxes on their long-awaited windfall.

It’s analogous to how we face our future. If you have a glass-half-empty view of life, things look pretty dire. Hell, even if you’re a glass-half-full person, as I tend to be, things still don’t look great, and yet we continue to care about what our society will look like in a hundred years. Or a thousand. Stories are still told that envision a hopeful future for humanity. Despite our worst fears, we still cling to the idea that the best is yet to come. What’s our alternative? Pack it in? Decide there’s nothing left for us and call it a day?

That’s not who we are. We keep going. We keep striving to live and make our lives better. Even as we struggle and suffer through difficult times, we hold on to the notion that things will improve. We innovate. We achieve. We create. We come up with ways to improve our lives easier and make them easier. We look to the horizon and we see no limits, because that’s how we survive.

Part of that horizon is space. Even as we love movies that show us how difficult and deadly it can be, movies that warn us about where it could all lead, we still look to the stars and wonder about the endless possibilities.

Jodie Foster Contact
Image via Warner Bros.

About 25 years ago, Jodie Foster starred in a very mediocre movie called Contact. In it, she plays Ellie, a scientist who desperately wants to go to space, and after extraterrestrial life is discovered, she goes on something of a spiritual journey. On it, she comes face to face with an entity, and something about their exchange has always stuck with me even though I’ve never been a huge fan of the film.

“This is the first step,” the entity says, reassuring Ellie that this is not the end of humanity’s journey, but just the beginning. “Soon there will be another. This is the way it’s been done for billions of years. Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”

I think about that scene often, and when I see Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos using their money to shoot themselves into space instead of housing the homeless or helping to feed the hungry, rather than shake my head in disgust at their choices, I remind myself, “Small moves.”

The same idea applies here, with this new studio in space. Aside from providing a fair number of people in our industry with a truly unique opportunity — if given the chance to head up to space to work on a movie, are you going to take it? Because Im pretty sure I would — I look at the idea of putting a facility in low orbit and think, “Small moves.” Because maybe this is the first step to something bigger. As we read about plans to put people on Mars, something like this could be a stepping stone towards that goal, a permanent foothold, so to speak, beyond this planet as we take our next steps toward an uncertain future.

And while we’re at it, we’re innovating, we’re achieving, we’re creating, and this is a rather inspiring way to do it. Good luck, and godspeed.

Neil TuritzNeil Turitz is a journalist, essayist, author, and filmmaker who has worked in and written about Hollywood for nearly 25 years, though he has never lived there. These days, he splits his time between New York City and the Berkshires. He’s not on Twitter, but you can find him on Instagram @6wordreviews.

You can read a new installation of The Accidental Turitz every Wednesday, and all previous columns can be found here.

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